Sunday, November 22, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Genre: YA
Copyright: June 2009
Pages: 290
Book Source: ARC copy passed on by Jenny @ Jenny Loves to Read

“Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.”
“Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?”

According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

Twenty Boy Summer is a beautifully written debut novel with a lot more to the story than the fun title suggests, it's a moving tale of love and loss, of friendship and forgiveness.

Anna & Frankie & Frankie's brother Matt have been neighbours and friends for as long as they can all remember. Anna has been in love with Matt for almost as long and all her dreams come true on her 15th birthday when her feelings are reciprocated. Matt's sudden death before he tells his sister about their relationship leaves Anna holding their secret with an empty space in her heart. One year on, the novel focuses on Anna & Frankie's friendship, the highs, the lows and their plan to have the Absolute Best Summer Ever (ABSE.)

While my teen years are long gone and my own memories are of far less permissive and relaxed parents, I found Anna & Frankie entirely relatable. My teenage sons are a constant reminder of all that is real and believable in this story; the excuses, sneaking out, parties, under-age drinking, and the sarcasm and humour characteristic of teen years certainly gave me a few laughs but what I found most moving was the ease with which Ockler captures so many unspoken aspects of grief.

When someone you love dies, people ask how you're doing, but they don't really want to know. They seek affirmation that you're ok, that you appreciate their concern, that life goes on and so can they. Secretly they wonder when the statute of limitations on asking expires (it's three months, by the way. Written or unwritten, that's about all the time it takes for people to forget the one thing that you never will. (page 73)

Once Frankie's asleep, my best friend superstrength disappears. My breathing shatters, tears blur the stars in the overhead skylight, and all the old ghosts I tried to leave home float like dandelion seed wishes into our room. (page 85)

This was an emotional story about friendship and the journey over, around & through grief, knowing when to hold on tight and when to let go, creating new memories while not being afraid to remember and treasure old ones and while my eyes brimmed with tears a few times and there were quite a few tugs on the heartstrings, the ABSE storyline kept it far from depressing. I'll definitely be reading more from this author.

Sarah's next book Fixing Delilah Hannaford is coming out mid 2010. Visit Sarah Ockler's website and blog to find out more about this author.

To celebrate my 1st Blogoversary two lucky readers can take their pick from a choice of 6 books in this month's spookalicious competition. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. Nice review, and if you wanna read more from her than that is a good recommendation for me

  2. Great review, might even read this one! Although the list seems very long at the moment.

  3. I loved your beautifully written, detailed review, and this book sounds great. There is a LOT of wisdom in that quote about how people respond when somebody dies.

  4. I tried not to read this one, but caught a few sentences. The reason is I haven't read it yet. It's sad, isn't it?

  5. I loved your review. The quote from the book is very insightful. I will add this to my TBB list.

  6. I love this book. It's such a beautifully told story.

  7. I have a copy of this one and I will be reading it soon. Loved what you thought about it and can't wait to experience this one for myself!

  8. I have had my eye on this book for months. You review was great and probably the best one for this book that I have read. You have truly reminded me that I should get this book to read.

  9. B ~ this is a really good book in more ways than one, very insightful!

    Alaine ~ I have quite a few contemporary YA's that I really want you to read because they are just that good.

    Laughing Stars ~ those quotes really spoke to me, I found the way the author dealt with grief and Anna's thoughts about grief to be so true!

    J. Kaye ~ I'm a bit of a sook, so yes I found it sad but also funny and lots of typical teen antics and the ending isn't sad. Hope you like it!

    Pamela ~ this was just one of the many insightful quotes in the book, it really was beautifully written. Hope you enjoy it :-)

    Michelle ~ Absolutely! I'll definitely be getting this author's next book, I like her writing style.

    Staci ~ can't wait to see what you think, hurry up and read it LOL

    Deanna ~ aww thanks sweetie, I'm sure you'd enjoy it. Some of the teen stuff made me cringe but I know my eldest son got up to similar mischief LOL

  10. I've had this one waiting for me to free up some time...since June. Or July. Anyway, it's been too long, and hopefully I'll get to it before it's summer again (or maybe just in time?). Glad you enjoyed it...

  11. Lovely review! Sounds like a great read.. and love the quote too!

    I have put it in my wish list!

  12. lthough the list seems very long at the moment.

    Lingerie Access

  13. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I totally agree with everything you said and will look for Ockler's next work as well. Hope teenage aboys are better than girls :)

  14. Excellent review, I've seen this one around the blogosphere a lot, but I've heard mixed reviews, looks like another to add to the ever growing TBB!


    Dottie :)


Thanks for taking the time to leave some comment love, I'm a 'comment back' kinda girl. Don't forget to check the 'Notify me' box